• Team QinetiQ Conquer the South Pole

News & Views

Team QinetiQ Conquer the South Pole

Mar 31 2009

British novices, James Cracknell, Bristol hospital-based Dr Ed Coates and Ben Fogle completed the gruelling Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race late on Jan 22 having raced for 464 miles in temperatures as low as -40 degrees against five other international teams. After holding first position in the early stages, the British contingent came in after 18 days, 5 hours and 30 minutes, in second place to Team Missing Link – two Norwegian polar experts who arrived ahead of the British team by 20 hours. After planting their flag at the pole, Missing Link – Rune Malterud and Stian Aker, both army trained and experienced skiers - thanked Team QinetiQ for making the race so competitive. This was the first race to the South Pole since Scott and Amundsen’s historic race nearly 100 years ago, when Roald Amundsen arrived at the Pole in December 1911 and Robert Scott on January 17, 1912.

During the challenge, Team QinetiQ faced biting winds, bitterly cold temperatures and crevasse fields while covering up to 43 miles a day and
climbing up to 9,300ft. They pulled 70 kg pulksleds for 16 hours every day, pitched tents and cooked in the extreme conditions which allowed
little more than four hours sleep a day.

Speaking from the Pole TV presenter Ben Fogle, who overcame the flesh-eating bug leishmaniasis prior to the race said: "You forget how dangerous Antarctica can be. I got away with it better than others but it finds little weaknesses. Sitting now in a tent by the South Pole we can barely keep our eyes open, but I feel incredibly contented."

"For most of the race we had no idea where we were in relation to the Norwegians. Then we saw their tracks and realised they were ahead. They had a lot of history to uphold,” added double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell.

Team QinetiQ, who had no polar experience before they set out from the UK in December, worked with QinetiQ Human Performance experts to fully prepare for the race, both physically and mentally. This included a 48 hour Antarctic training assessment at -40 degrees in an environmental climate chamber, fitness assessments, nutritional and sleep advice and psychological support on working as a team.

Shane Slater, Sales and Marketing Director for QinetiQ said: "This is a great achievement for a team who have never set foot in Antarctica
before. Reaching the South Pole after racing across the largest ice cap in the world, in such extreme conditions is outstanding. Congratulations to the Team and to the experts here at QinetiQ who not only ensured the team completed the race safely, but actually helped
them to be in contention to win it."

Team QinetiQ is raising money for the children’s charity Sparks www.sparks.org.uk. Their journey is being filmed for a documentary, ‘On Thin Ice’ which will be broadcast in Spring/Summer 2009 on BBC 2.

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